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Better than a MacBook Pro Retina?

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September 22, 2012 6:05:21 PM

So, my end goal is ultimately to build a very powerful machine and beat the, arguably impressive, specs of a MacBook Pro Retina (released this year) - don't ask why.

I'm doing an upgrade to my homebuilt PC and aiming for these end specs:

AMD FX-8150 @ 3.6GHz
24GB DDR3 RAM @ 1333Hz
Asus 560 Ti DIRECTCU II @ 930Hz
Two 128GB SSDs in RAID0

Motherboard is an Asus M5A78L-M/USB3

Would those specs create a machine which is more powerful than the highest spec MacBook Pro with Retina display available right now?

I believe the MacBook has an i7 CPU called a 3610GE, the only thing similar I could find online was a 3610QM which sits just above the 8150 on most CPU rating lists, but that's the only factor I could think which would possibly be worse than the MacBook.

More about : macbook pro retina

September 22, 2012 6:09:23 PM

Bad choice of parts.
24GB of RAM is a bad choice. Get 8GB, or if you really want, 16GB.
And why the 560Ti? The 7850 handily beats it.
And hold off on the FX. Piledriver is coming the 1st or 2nd week of Oct.
September 22, 2012 6:10:45 PM

obsama1 said:
Bad choice of parts.
24GB of RAM is a bad choice. Get 8GB, or if you really want, 16GB.
And why the 560Ti? The 7850 handily beats it.
And hold off on the FX. Piledriver is coming the 1st or 2nd week of Oct.



24GB of RAM is because I mainly run Photoshop, which is a RAM whore.
I already own the 560Ti and purposely avoided an ATI because of OpenGL and other conflicts. (I also chose the 560 Ti due to budget reasons)
I'll look into the Piledriver but ideally don't want to spend any more than £160 on a CPU.
Related resources
September 22, 2012 6:14:13 PM

24GB of RAM is going to be triple-channel, which will not work with your CPU and mobo. You'll need to get 16GB or 32GB. Never heard of OpenGL conflicts.

And if you wait for PD, BD might get a price drop.
September 22, 2012 6:15:50 PM

obsama1 said:
24GB of RAM is going to be triple-channel, which will not work with your CPU and mobo. You'll need to get 16GB or 32GB. Never heard of OpenGL conflicts.

And if you wait for PD, BD might get a price drop.




Not an expert on RAM, but I know my current mobo is dual channel. I was thinking two 4GB sticks and two 8GB sticks? Or would that still not work?
September 22, 2012 6:17:04 PM

Beating a laptop should be quite trivial with a desktop though.
September 22, 2012 6:17:25 PM

Well, you don't want to mix RAM. Best to get one RAM kit. I suggest 16GB, but if you really need it, 32GB.
September 22, 2012 6:19:20 PM

Buddy i bought a Macbook Pro a couple of weeks ago and i love it, its not just another laptop, the screen is PERFECT, everything is perfect about it .... i mean, i just love it!!

Is it expensive?? for most people yes.

Is it worth it? probably not.

Is it perfect? absolutely, i mean... its apple! what else can i say??? a lot of people around here hate apple but IMHO its because they don't have the money to buy their products.

Back in my house on the US the eco system i have at home is exclusively apple based, its awesome.
September 22, 2012 6:21:16 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Beating a laptop should be quite trivial with a desktop though.



The bench marking is quite competitive.
September 22, 2012 6:22:24 PM

I've used a rMBP. Awesome screen, but I prefer Windows, and ASUS.

"a lot of people around here hate apple but IMHO its because they don't have the money to buy their products."

A lot of people here hate the iPhone, and it's the SAME price as any other smartphone. It's not about the money. It's just that other people like different products.
September 22, 2012 6:23:59 PM

With OS X, Apple can optimize the software a lot on the hardware, since they design both HW and SW. With Windows, Microsoft has to focus on compatibility, while getting good performance. With Windows, the rMBP isn't going to beat a similarly prices laptop from ASUS or Clevo/Sager.
September 22, 2012 6:24:45 PM

jarrrp said:
The bench marking is quite competitive.

Well at school I've used expensive enterprise level HP laptops that have hardware equal to the most expensive Apples and it's nowhere near the performance of my desktop for example.
September 22, 2012 7:15:58 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Well at school I've used expensive enterprise level HP laptops that have hardware equal to the most expensive Apples and it's nowhere near the performance of my desktop for example.



Have you seen any of the bench mark tests for the Retina MacBook Pro? They're extremely competitive with high end PCs. Even the integrated graphics are very powerful.
September 22, 2012 7:28:11 PM

1) rMBP is a laptop... and an ultr-thin as well. It is not hard to beat that kind of performance in the desktop space, just about any quad core CPU will meet or beat it without breaking a sweat. As far as beating the screen, that is a bit harder to do as desktop monitors simply do not run at such high densities. Over the next few years we will start seeing massive increases in pixel density for high end monitors, but it is going to be a little while before it gets anywhere near affordable. For the moment, the best you can do in a high end HP or Dell IPS monitor, running at insane resolutions, but you would probably want a better GPU than what you picked in order to drive something like that.

Plus, in the desktop world it opens up the options for raid, multiple SSDs, larger SSDs, faster buss speeds, etc. You simply cannot compare the 2 platforms.

2) Do not mix and match ram sizes, especially if overclocking. Ram is cheap, so just do a straight 16 or 32GB setup. You can do 24GB in a 2x4GB + 2x8GB setup, but why would you? Just start with 2x8GB, and if you need more you can always add it later. Also, doing video editing (which I understand is not the same as photo editing), it is fairly hard to fill up 16GB of ram. I think you will be fine with that, and like I said; if you need more, you can always add it later. Also, 1600 is not much more expensive, and is often the same price or even cheaper than 1333, so that is a better direction to move in.

-Keep in mind that winVista/7/8 Home edition caps you at 16GB of ram, so you will need Pro or Ultimate in order to use more than 16GB of memory.

3) as someone else mentioned, the new AMD CPUs should be out relatively soon, and should fix a lot of the issues found in their current chips, so it would be worth waiting. Even if you are still going to get a current gen chip, if the new chips are as good as we are all hoping and expecting, then current gen chips will go on a fire sale, freeing up your budget for other parts.

4) SSDs are highly parallel devices, that use technologies kinda similar to RAID internally to get the most throughput from the chips inside. Larger SSDs use more chips, which adds more parallelism, which makes them faster. When you see the specs of 5xxMB/s on an SSD, always bear in mind that the rating is for the entire model line, and is not applicable to the smaller drives, which will perform much slower. In other words, you are much better off getting a single larger SSD, than getting 2 smaller SSDs.

Now, if you are talking about RAIDing 240+GB SSDs where all the internal ram slots are populated, then you can start talking about getting real expected performance gains. But for 60-120GB drives, you are only duplicating what is already going on internally, while duplicating potential failure points, which I would never suggest to anyone.

5) For the GPU seriously consider going with AMD. I am a huge nVidia fan, but when it comes to higher resolution scenarios, or multi-screen, etc, AMD simply has the better architecture for such things. I have never once heard of AMD cards having issues with OpenGL in recent history (it was an issue at one time... but that was years ago, back when it was ATI I think). In fact AMD is practically writing the book on how to do OpenGL and OpenCL right, and for productivity work it is the direction that all the big software is moving right now. If you are using older software that relies on CUDA, then sure, stick with an older nVidia 570+ GPU, but a 560ti does not have enough cores to really compete in the pro rendering arena.


On a side note:
Yes, benchmarking is extremely competitive, but Macs are not benchmarking machines. Macs are 'prupose built' machines that are made to do specific workloads with specific hardware, in a specific aesthetic package. You never buy a mac for 'raw horsepower' because they simply cannot compete on that kind of playing field. You buy a mac becase you are invested in the mac ecosystem (apps, iphone, ipad, ipod, appleTV, etc) and you want all of your stuff to work nicely togheter, or because you like their aestheric, or their OS, or their workflow options, etc.
You can never ever ever compare a desktop to a laptop. Laptops are closed and typically non-upgradeable systems which are much more concerned with things like package size and battery life, which are non-issues on the desktop side. Laptops typically have a single HDD, which can only push so much data at a time which is a HUGE limiting factor when it comes to editing software. Laptops are extremely limited in Ram module sizes, and it is hard to cram 16+GB of ram in a laptop, where it is easy to do 32GB in a desktop, and not hard to get a system that can do 64GB if you really wanted to. Laptops have craptastic CPUs that are throttled way down due to power and thermal constraints, and often a high end i3 or low end i5 desktop CPU can run circles around the fastest i7 laptop CPUs because they are free to drink as much power as they need, and can often run at much higher clock speeds. Laptop graphics is even more constrained on laptop platforms than the desktop, and even mid level desktop GPUs can beat out 2 high end laptop GPUs running in SLi or xFire.
They are simply 2 different platforms, with 2 entirely different sets of expectations, where a $400 desktop is equivilant to a ~$7-900 laptop. You pay the extra because you need the portability, and the integrated screen, not because you want something that is 'fast'. Again, I am not saying that laptops are bad, or incapable of doing production work, because they are obviously quite capable. And the rMBP is an excellent laptop; my friend just got one, and it works beautifully (though it seems a little CPU constrained... but I didnt get to play with it for long so I could be wrong on that opinion). But comparing a rMBP to ANY desktop is comparing apples to oranges, it cannot be properly done, and it should not be done.

Lastly, if you are in a school, and all your peers and teacher are on Mac, then do yourself a favor and get a mac. It has nothing to do with it being a 'better' or 'worse' platform, and has everything to do with having better compatibility with the people you work with. Besides, knowing only windows is a serious handicap. I love windows, but if I was completely ignorant of OSX, or a few Linux distros, or even Android/iOS/WP then it would simply hold me back, because the fact of the matter is that people use a variety of platforms, and the more you know, the more opportunities will come your way. Personally I love the Windows/Intel platform. It is what I mostly use, and what I enjoy using the most. But I have situations every day where I have to use other platforms, and that is OK.
September 22, 2012 7:32:23 PM

Which configuration of the rMBP are you attempting to beat? Comparing desktops to laptops is pretty lopsided in favor of desktops if you're just looking at hardware performance imho. Well since I can't easily find a place where Apple actually releases the exact model of their CPUs on their website, I don't know which integrated graphics they use, but if it's in the same generation as a comparable Intel desktop processor, the integrated graphics performance will still be the same... What kind of benchmarks are you looking at? Also, rMBPs can only be equipped with up to 16GB of RAM.
September 22, 2012 7:34:52 PM

CaedenV said:
1) rMBP is a laptop... and an ultr-thin as well. It is not hard to beat that kind of performance in the desktop space, just about any quad core CPU will meet or beat it without breaking a sweat. As far as beating the screen, that is a bit harder to do as desktop monitors simply do not run at such high densities. Over the next few years we will start seeing massive increases in pixel density for high end monitors, but it is going to be a little while before it gets anywhere near affordable. For the moment, the best you can do in a high end HP or Dell IPS monitor, running at insane resolutions, but you would probably want a better GPU than what you picked in order to drive something like that.

Plus, in the desktop world it opens up the options for raid, multiple SSDs, larger SSDs, faster buss speeds, etc. You simply cannot compare the 2 platforms.

2) Do not mix and match ram sizes, especially if overclocking. Ram is cheap, so just do a straight 16 or 32GB setup. You can do 24GB in a 2x4GB + 2x8GB setup, but why would you? Just start with 2x8GB, and if you need more you can always add it later. Also, doing video editing (which I understand is not the same as photo editing), it is fairly hard to fill up 16GB of ram. I think you will be fine with that, and like I said; if you need more, you can always add it later. Also, 1600 is not much more expensive, and is often the same price or even cheaper than 1333, so that is a better direction to move in.

-Keep in mind that winVista/7/8 Home edition caps you at 16GB of ram, so you will need Pro or Ultimate in order to use more than 16GB of memory.

3) as someone else mentioned, the new AMD CPUs should be out relatively soon, and should fix a lot of the issues found in their current chips, so it would be worth waiting. Even if you are still going to get a current gen chip, if the new chips are as good as we are all hoping and expecting, then current gen chips will go on a fire sale, freeing up your budget for other parts.

4) SSDs are highly parallel devices, that use technologies kinda similar to RAID internally to get the most throughput from the chips inside. Larger SSDs use more chips, which adds more parallelism, which makes them faster. When you see the specs of 5xxMB/s on an SSD, always bear in mind that the rating is for the entire model line, and is not applicable to the smaller drives, which will perform much slower. In other words, you are much better off getting a single larger SSD, than getting 2 smaller SSDs.

Now, if you are talking about RAIDing 240+GB SSDs where all the internal ram slots are populated, then you can start talking about getting real expected performance gains. But for 60-120GB drives, you are only duplicating what is already going on internally, while duplicating potential failure points, which I would never suggest to anyone.

5) For the GPU seriously consider going with AMD. I am a huge nVidia fan, but when it comes to higher resolution scenarios, or multi-screen, etc, AMD simply has the better architecture for such things. I have never once heard of AMD cards having issues with OpenGL in recent history (it was an issue at one time... but that was years ago, back when it was ATI I think). In fact AMD is practically writing the book on how to do OpenGL and OpenCL right, and for productivity work it is the direction that all the big software is moving right now. If you are using older software that relies on CUDA, then sure, stick with an older nVidia 570+ GPU, but a 560ti does not have enough cores to really compete in the pro rendering arena.


On a side note:
Yes, benchmarking is extremely competitive, but Macs are not benchmarking machines. Macs are 'prupose built' machines that are made to do specific workloads with specific hardware, in a specific aesthetic package. You never buy a mac for 'raw horsepower' because they simply cannot compete on that kind of playing field. You buy a mac becase you are invested in the mac ecosystem (apps, iphone, ipad, ipod, appleTV, etc) and you want all of your stuff to work nicely togheter, or because you like their aestheric, or their OS, or their workflow options, etc.
You can never ever ever compare a desktop to a laptop. Laptops are closed and typically non-upgradeable systems which are much more concerned with things like package size and battery life, which are non-issues on the desktop side. Laptops typically have a single HDD, which can only push so much data at a time which is a HUGE limiting factor when it comes to editing software. Laptops are extremely limited in Ram module sizes, and it is hard to cram 16+GB of ram in a laptop, where it is easy to do 32GB in a desktop, and not hard to get a system that can do 64GB if you really wanted to. Laptops have craptastic CPUs that are throttled way down due to power and thermal constraints, and often a high end i3 or low end i5 desktop CPU can run circles around the fastest i7 laptop CPUs because they are free to drink as much power as they need, and can often run at much higher clock speeds. Laptop graphics is even more constrained on laptop platforms than the desktop, and even mid level desktop GPUs can beat out 2 high end laptop GPUs running in SLi or xFire.
They are simply 2 different platforms, with 2 entirely different sets of expectations, where a $400 desktop is equivilant to a ~$7-900 laptop. You pay the extra because you need the portability, and the integrated screen, not because you want something that is 'fast'. Again, I am not saying that laptops are bad, or incapable of doing production work, because they are obviously quite capable. And the rMBP is an excellent laptop; my friend just got one, and it works beautifully (though it seems a little CPU constrained... but I didnt get to play with it for long so I could be wrong on that opinion). But comparing a rMBP to ANY desktop is comparing apples to oranges, it cannot be properly done, and it should not be done.

Lastly, if you are in a school, and all your peers and teacher are on Mac, then do yourself a favor and get a mac. It has nothing to do with it being a 'better' or 'worse' platform, and has everything to do with having better compatibility with the people you work with. Besides, knowing only windows is a serious handicap. I love windows, but if I was completely ignorant of OSX, or a few Linux distros, or even Android/iOS/WP then it would simply hold me back, because the fact of the matter is that people use a variety of platforms, and the more you know, the more opportunities will come your way. Personally I love the Windows/Intel platform. It is what I mostly use, and what I enjoy using the most. But I have situations every day where I have to use other platforms, and that is OK.



Thank you for your extremely detailed reply. The last part about being ignorant of other platforms - I use Photoshop and casual gaming so I wanted to build a powerful PC to do all that, but for some strange reason I just wanted it to be better than any Mac available now out of the box. I have an iPhone and plan on getting an iPad soon, so I'm very familiar with iOS, and Mac - as it happens.

Thanks again, definitely a clear answer.
September 22, 2012 7:40:14 PM

TemurAmir said:
Which configuration of the rMBP are you attempting to beat? Comparing desktops to laptops is pretty lopsided in favor of desktops if you're just looking at hardware performance imho. Well since I can't easily find a place where Apple actually releases the exact model of their CPUs on their website, I don't know which integrated graphics they use, but if it's in the same generation as a comparable Intel desktop processor, the integrated graphics performance will still be the same... What kind of benchmarks are you looking at? Also, rMBPs can only be equipped with up to 16GB of RAM.



Lots of people used Geekbench 2 when they first got their retina MacBook Pros on YouTube. It annoyed me because the scores wiped the floor with my PC.
September 22, 2012 7:43:36 PM

jarrrp said:
Thank you for your extremely detailed reply. The last part about being ignorant of other platforms - I use Photoshop and casual gaming so I wanted to build a powerful PC to do all that, but for some strange reason I just wanted it to be better than any Mac available now out of the box. I have an iPhone and plan on getting an iPad soon, so I'm very familiar with iOS, and Mac - as it happens.

Thanks again, definitely a clear answer.

... if you are already part of the Mac enviornment then just get a rMBP, or a mac desktop (which will kick the crap out of a mac laptop), and then have a windows partition/boot for games. Not quite the same performance as gaming on a true PC game rig, but they seem to do well enough at medium settings.
September 22, 2012 8:00:43 PM

^^^
They run pretty well, but they haven't gotten a refresh since 2011. Next refresh will be next year. For the price of an iMac, I'd rather build a rig, but that's my opinion. Just my two cents.
September 22, 2012 11:26:40 PM

Hackintosh?
September 23, 2012 7:13:05 AM

FinneousPJ said:
Hackintosh?



It's not the Mac experience that I want, I just want to beat benchmarking scores.
!